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It all started like this.

First there was the CQC-6, and then there was the CQC-7. In fact, if I had not developed the CQC-6 model, there would never have been the CQC-7. And I'm not just talking about the numerical sequence.

I had developed the CQC-6 knife at the request of NAVSPECWAR back at a time when most people did not know that SEAL Team 6 even existed. By then of course, they were known as DEVGRU or Naval Special Warfare Development Group. And the story of the CQC-6 is a long tail to tell all by itself. Perhaps, for the next time we're sitting around the campfire.

Anyway, sometime back in the early 1990s, I got a call from a SEAL Team Commander who was attending a conference at United States Special Operations Command Headquarters, USSOCOM, at Fort MacDill, Florida. “Mr. Emerson,” and I'm paraphrasing here because it was a lengthy conversation, “Mr. Emerson, we would like to inquire about a knife that we've been seeing and hearing about and would like to find out if you can supply them to us on a regular basis as needed.”

I told him that those knives were all handmade one at a time by me, and that I couldn't make them in any number. He then asked, “Have you considered having them made by a commercial producer? And would you consider doing so?” I replied back, “I don't know any commercial producers. I make them in my garage. So, I could do that, but I just don't know anyone who I would approach, or what to do, or who to contact.” He then added, “Let me make a phone call and get back to you, if that's okay.”

I said, “Okay.” But in my head, I was shouting, “Hell yes, that's okay.”


A day or two later, I got a call from the operations manager of a well-known knife company. “Mr. Emerson, we'd like to discuss making a commercial version of the knife you've been making for some ‘special customers'. I believe it's called the CQC-6.”

Fast forwarding through this story, I ended up telling that knife company that I wouldn't allow the CQC-6 design to be manufactured, but instead I had a variation of that knife that I had also designed called the CQC-7. After some back and forth discussions, they finally agreed to my new design, and the CQC-7 was born. Of course, it helped that they had a customer waiting to take almost the entire first run of the “Emerson knife” on the back end. And, I had already submitted several prototypes to the ST Commander who originally contacted me, and they loved the design. He and his command helped coax that knife company into making the decision to go withthe CQC-7 design.cqc-7b

And this was the birth of the most iconic tactical knife design of all time. It also became the biggest selling tactical folder in the world.


The CQC-7 went on to be issued both officially and unofficially to US and Foreign Special Operations units, and every United States alphabet intelligence agency from A to Z.

So fast forwarding a couple of years in time… It became evident that the worldwide demand for Emerson Tactical Knives was outgrowing that knife company, and as a result, we decided to start a company of our own dedicated to manufacturing and building Emerson tactical knife designs.  Emerson Knives Incorporated was founded in 1997. As a result, there was some legal wrangling (another story for another campfire), but we got our design back in late 1998 and immediately went into production of the Emerson CQC-7, now made by our own company, Emerson Knives Inc. The first ones hit the ground in 1999, and they instantly became our bestselling design, which still continues to this day.

In the next installment, the CQC-7 design – Why it is the way it is.


  • John Knight says:

    In the history of the CQC-6 and -7, it would be interesting to learn why he chose the particular features of the knife, such as that chisel edge, the tanto point, the length of the blade, etc. What features of this knife make it a better tactical knife than other designs.

  • Joe Haley says:

    The cqc-7 is the best tactical knife I own and carry daily. I feel .totally confident that if danger of being harmed comes my way I’ll be able to defend myself against attackers with this knife. I highly recommend it as your EDC.

  • Glenn Burdette says:

    Gave my first one to my son who was in a special unit of law enforcement, left unnamed. My second one is almost worn out from sharpening, and use. My third one will go in my pocket for those special occasions.

  • jdtincher154 says:

    Love reading about the history of your knives!

  • Fred Spellman says:

    Mr. Emerson,
    I love these kinds of stories! Please don’t hesitate to get long winded with the history of your knives. I look forward to the next installment.

    Fred Spellman

  • Fernando says:

    WOW That must have been exciting, I believe it was also in the T.V. action show SOF Inc.

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